Canada Reads 2020: Favourites and Winner Prediction

Here is who I think will win Canada Reads 2020 this year as well as some of my personal favourites.

The COVID-19 outbreak means that the Canada Reads debates this year are currently postponed until further notice so we all got a little extra time to read all five of finalists which, I definitely needed this year. Did you read them all?

Which one of these books will be crowned the winner? Which one will be the one book to bring Canada into focus? If you’re a follower of the debates you know that sometimes it’s not always the book you expect to win due to some outstanding debating.

Firstly, I’m going to rank the books by how much I personally enjoyed them and then I am going to predict which book I think might be the winner this year when the debates resume. I actually enjoyed all of these books so I found it challenging to rank them this year.


Favourites

1.

From the Ashes

I think this novel will be everyone’s personal favourite out of the five. It’s a truly inspiring read about how one Canadian man overcame so many insurmountable circumstances. The novel is a moving and uplifting and I found it the most positive of the five contenders.

2.

Radicalized

The only collaboration of short stories, this novel took an intriguing approach to a variety of societal issues. One story had a super hero twist while another a futuristic envisionment of the apocalypse. Each with well-developed and emotionally intriguing characters this novel is an approachable read with some serious content.

3.

We Have Always Been Here

Being queer and muslim is not something a lot of places and people in the world are ready to accept, unfortunately, even in Canada. This memoir details the life and advocacy of one such queer muslim and how she aims to bring attention to the subject. The author’s story is moving and engaging and I enjoyed following her personal journey.

4.

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club

One the most profound books of the five and the best written, this novel has an enormous cast of characters that show you what it’s like growing up and living in Newfoundland when you’re a poor. While intriguing this book isn’t very uplifting and didn’t make for ideal self-isolation reading during the intense time of the COVID-19 pandemic. I may have ranked this book differently under different circumstances.

5.

Son of A Trickster

Son of Trickster is a YA novel that intermingles poetry and whimsical Native American stories while also drawing attention to some of the issues facing today’s Native American youth. I enjoyed this book for the most part but had to put it at the end of my list based on the other contenders this year. Its story just wasn’t as strong as the others.


Winner Prediction

Radicalized

I believe that this is the one book that will bring Canada into focus. It covers an array of pertinent topics and issues and in a manner that is approachable to any reader. The novel is succinct, entertaining, and thought provoking.

We Have Always Been Here: A Queen Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib

Grown-ups, who are supposed to protect their children, are limited by what “best” has felt like to them, based on the circumstances they grew in and the privilege they did or did not have. The lines between grown-up and child were often blurred between me and my mom. Her “best” did not look like mine; in fact, it looked like danger. It felt like surrender.

4/5 stars.
ebook, 190 pages.
Read from January 29, 2020 to February 1, 2020.

Whoop whoop! First book into the Canada Reads 2020 and its started out with a bang. This year Canada Reads brings one collection of novellas, two memoirs, and two pieces of fiction. I started with We Have Always Been Here which is one of the two memoirs heading into the debates. We Have Always Been Here will be defended by Amanda Brugel during the debates taking place from March 16-19th.

Samra spent her childhood years growing up in Pakistan in fear of religious persecution as well as the threat of a highly patriarchal society that stifled her and her family. After being sexually assaulted by a family friend her life became even more restricted. From a young age Samra had a fire in her that couldn’t be put out no matter what was thrown at her. When violence started to escalate her family was thankfully able to pack up and flee to Canada to safety. Samra and her family found themselves in a new home where they were not as affluent as they were in Pakistan. Samra struggled as a new immigrant at school and even more so with her identity as she struggled between her conservative family values and a country with a new way of life that she found immensely appealing. Samra is married and divorced, twice, before the age of 25 and goes on an exploratory journey with her own sexuality as she realises her own queerness. Still, Samra is drawn to her religion and needs to find a new way to connect with her church and her family as she blooms into her true self.

How do you find yourself when the world tells you that you don’t exist?

Samra Habib

Samra is now an advocate for the queer Muslim community with her writing and photography to help highlight and bring light to queer Muslims who have been in her situation. Samra’s writing is frank and engaging as she details the story of her life without asking for sympathy. Her journey is an empowering one and one that I didn’t want to put down. Samra embraces her queerness, femininity, and religion with grace and strength and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her memoir.

Is this the one book to bring Canada into focus? While this is an immensely important topic we will have to wait and see what the other books bring to the table to the debates.